The scientific world is poised for the biggest experiment in history, and it is going to happen in Geneva, the city of John Calvin whose Puritan ethics provided the religious underpinnings for capitalism 500 years ago. This Northern autumn it will host another quasi religious event: the recreation of that first moment of our universe - Big Bang Mark II.
Scientists and boffin journalists all over the world have been waiting for this for over 40 years, while billions of dollars have created the particle accelerator CERN in a tunnel underneath the Jura mountains, where particles will be speeded up and smashed together at close to light speed.
According to the now fairly aged pioneers, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will finally prove scientifically what have so far been merely theories about the origins of the universe: 'We are 90% certain'.
The hope is for the emergence of strange new matter, and a new particle called Higgs Boson that is assumed to be the stuff that our universe is made of, and that is holding it together. It is also known as the God Particle, a name that makes a lot of the agnostic CERN scientists cringe, but which inspires lay observers to wonder if modern science has finally come up with something truly fundamental.
40 years of Western affluence will produce Big Bang en miniature. To prove - what exactly? Undoubtedly, with a little effort and the right financial incentive, Higgs Boson could be shorn of its divine innocence and turned into something truly infernal, like all the other weapon systems that have evolved since Hahn and Curie split the atom.
But what is fascinating is something that scientists have started to entertain as an incredible side effect of their experiment. It is conceivable that it might establish the possibility of parallel universes. Buddhists have always believed that many parallel universes exist, infinite numbers in fact, and that the one we inhabit in this lifetime is merely the display of our particular current karma.
If we accept the Buddha's teaching of infinity as the principle of cyclic existence rather than a linear development, then this idea is logical and not just science fiction cloaked as an article of faith.
However, for a sceptical Western Buddhist like myself it would be deeply satisfying to have this proved by science, especially in times of 'Intelligent Design' and other aberrations.
An avalanche of data will be processed, and incidentally form the next generation of super computers available to us that are of such superior power that they are like Lamborghinis to the horse-drawn carriages of our current model. Then something will emerge. New data, new knowledge.
That is if the intrepid scientists survive the experiment. Apart from Higgs Boson as the star performer, LHC will also produce ‘small' Black Holes and nobody knows quite what to expect.
Even the most scientifically challenged among us know that Black Holes, regardless of size, suck up matter and make it disappear in inexplicable ways. This has been part of our human knowledge since Kubrick and 2001, or at least since sophisticated science programs like Star Trek, and it is scary.
Scientists know we know, and have started to address this fear. They are uniformly relaxed, and almost unpatronising when they explain that these small Black Holes ‘will collapse almost immediately' , and that there is no danger whatsoever. After all, they themselves are only protected by Health and Safety helmets for crawling through the tunnel.
Enter Walter L Wagner of Hawaii. He is a nuclear physicist and much more worried. On his website he states that these black holes are anything but harmless, and the dangers are incalculable. For a scientist his website is a surprisingly plain three pages with a few glitches suggesting only a basic familiarity with HTML, but his message is dramatic: he is going to sue the U.S. Ministry of Science, the Fermilab, and CERN for recklessly endangering humankind. Links to other scientists and their warnings are provided, and the web visitor is invited to donate US$10 to support the legal venture.
We might snigger and perhaps even doubt that Walter is the genuine article, but let's hope that none of the CERN scientists have the karma to get sucked into those ‘small‘ Black Holes, along with Geneva, Switzerland, and the rest of this particular universe.
Renate Ogilvie is a psychotherapist and teacher of Buddhist philosophy.